Decisions, Decisions

Sometimes you can head off a decision you’ll regret by looking into your heart and finding regret already there. ~Robert Brault, American author

Gee, can’t a dog get any sleep around here without somebody sticking a camera in his face??

After spending two full years sitting on the fence over whether to keep Monkey or return him to his breeder, I’ve finally made a decision.

He’s staying … Ta-dah!

First, I learned sending him back to the breeder isn’t an option. She’s having personal problems and can’t deal with another dog.

So an acquaintance (former friend) proposed I re-home him with a retired couple she knew. Said they’d have more time for him. Said they have two big dogs he could “play” with. Said they’d lost their Sheltie and desperately wanted another one. Said we’d both win because I’d be rid of this “problem.”

Domer and Granmma were horrified. Neither believe for a second that Monkey would be happier or better behaved elsewhere. They reminded me he chose me from the get-go and practically worships me.

But raising him to this point has been hard.

Because of his stomach issues and diarrhea, I used to set my clock every two hours through the night and get up, take him outside to potty, and clean up “soft-serve” when he messed in the house. He was placed on a veterinary (read: expensive) diet, and treats were forbidden, for fear they’d upset his tummy.

How do you train a dog without treats??

Gradually, he’s transitioned to a quality food that does agree with him, and I’ve found some cookies and biscuits that don’t stress his gut.

Monk manifests the Pandemic Puppy Persona: separation anxiety, unreasonable fears over things he can’t control, poor response to strangers and other critters. In addition, as a Herding Dog, he has a LOT of energy, and it’s a challenge to keep him mentally and physically stimulated to prevent boredom.

We’re making do, thanks to indoor fetching toys, tugging ropes, Kong chews, a huge yard, plenty of indoor space … and regular long walks.

This summer, when I was at the end of my rope with him, I consulted two experts — a behavior specialist vet and a representative from Sheltie Rescue. They gave me lots of things to try as I retrain Monk of the bad habits developed during his early months.

Some of it’s working — though he’s still a hand full.

Still, everything in me is convinced no one else could (or would) deal with his monkey business better than I. I’m the one who’s sunk time, money, and energy into this pup. I’m the one he trusts.

And I’m the one whose heart would break if he weren’t underfoot.

While things might never be perfect, I’m not surrendering. It takes time and patience to grow a good dog, and this one’s worth it.

Happy 2nd Birthday, Little Monkey!

27 thoughts on “Decisions, Decisions

  1. “While things might never be perfect, I’m not surrendering. It takes time and patience to grow a good dog, and this one’s worth it.”

    *clapping*

    Good for you, Debbie! I am soooooooooo happy to hear that!

    And as you mentioned – “everything in me is convinced no one else could (or would) deal with his monkey business better than I.” – Yes!

    I’m a firm believer that although they can be very challenging and frustrating at times, things happen for a reason.

    ” I’m the one he trusts.”

    You’re right. Which means he loves you very, very much.

    Good news, my friend! And bravo to you!

    And Happy 2nd Birthday, Little Monkey! X

    • “Things happen for a reason.” Indeed they do, Ron, and I have to believe Monkey must have known what he was doing when he picked me out. All his siblings looked cute (puppies always do!), and I’d have never been able to choose just one. He refused to let me put him down then … and that’s continued to this day. Have a great weekend! xx

  2. You and Monkey have certainly been though a lot together and I’m happy to know you’ve decided to stick it out. All the work you’ve put into the relationship makes it all the more precious and worth treasuring. And as you say, he trusts you. In my mind, that would make all the effort worthwhile and meaningful. Happy 2nd Birthday, Monkey! You’ve both come such a long way!

    • We have been through a lot, Barbara, and much of it’s been hard. Still, he’s turned into a healthy pup and a good companion … and perhaps he’s teaching me to be more patient. Thanks for the birthday wishes — no sugary cakes for little Monkey, but he will get some new cookies and toys (shh, that’s a secret!)

      • As you know, my family had a Sheltie when I was little. My parents worked at the University of Connecticut, an agricultural college, and my mother got permission to let Skipper herd their sheep on weekends. Also, when we got home from school, before my parents got home from work, we were responsible for taking Skipper out back and running him. He would play fetch most of the time, but he much preferred to herd my sister and me around the yard and into the woods. These memories came back to me after reading some of your readers’ comments.

        • Skipper sounds like Monkey — high energy! Monk would love to herd sheep … or ducks or any critters that move. I’m sort of past the “running around the back yard” age, though! Thanks for sharing your memories — I’m glad they are happy ones, Barbara!

  3. This post brought tears to my eyes. I know from personal experience that Shelties can be a handful. They are herding dogs bred to run in the fields. Born to run, in other words. With a dog that energetic, there must be a commitment to lots of exercise. As you know. In addition, we have dealt with similar health issues with one of our Shelties and one of our cats. Boy oh boy, not easy. But so very glad you have decided to keep Monkey.

    • Eliza, I do hope you’re right. When my son came home at Thanksgiving, he said he was able to see big changes in Monk regarding the slowing down (not that this pup is SLOW but rather, he’s finally able to relax a bit and set his anxieties aside). Probably a good thing!

  4. I was afraid to continue reading. I’m so glad the two of you are sticking together. We’re waiting for a litter of puppies that was born Dec 5 to grow so the breeder can decide if we’ll get one. Your story makes me nervous.

    • Don’t let fear trouble you, Dawn. As you know, Dallas was my soul-dog, but he definitely wasn’t cuddly. Monk is — he loves a lap, being made over, and following us throughout the house. They’re all different! I’m sad it’s taken me this long to see all Monk’s good qualities, but better late than never. I wouldn’t have forgiven myself if I’d re-homed him, only to see him later and realize how good he can be! Fingers crossed on your new fur-buddy (and I’m certain the Princess is smiling from the Bridge … not at being replaced because they’re all irreplaceable, but because you’ve got room in your hearts for another pup to love and cherish!)

  5. I smiled at your mention of Monkey teaching you patience. That’s exactly what I went through with Dixie Rose. She didn’t have any physical issues, and she really was an exceptionally good cat, but she knew what she wanted, and what I wanted from her was irrelevant. For example: she wasn’t a lap cat, and not at all cuddly. But if she could be in control, she would show her affection: specifically, when I went to bed and was lying prone — that is, obviously not a threat — she’d jump up, purr like crazy, and knead with her paws. Once I accepted those limits, I was satisfied, and so was she.

    I expect that, in time, you’ll see some great leaps forward, in health and in behavior. Monkey’s lucky to have you — I can’t imagine a better Monkey-Mom!

    • Aw, gee, thanks, Linda! It’s funny, but when Domer’s around, this is one very good pup. He seems to enjoy having more than one person to follow around, yet his anxieties seem to take a backseat. Maybe it’s just the male presence. I’ve often heard it said that dogs are better when there’s a guy around — they seem to accept limits better and aren’t as quick to “sass.” Of course, it might be because Domer is a novelty. We’ll see how Monk does when he’s home for the holidays!

  6. Oh no, you couldn’t get rid of Monkey! I do sympathise. I acquired Tommy and Tuppence as very young kittens just two weeks before my mother became ill with what turned out to be her final illness. So for months they didn’t get enough attention and training, and both had behavioural problems as a result – Tommy still does. There are times when I could cheerfully have sent them away if I could ever have persuaded myself that anyone else would have more patience with them and that my heart wouldn’t break. But they were mine, and more importantly, I was theirs! And I’m afraid you now belong to Monkey… 😀

    • Mercy, FF, you’ve hit the nail on its head! I think the reason I’m so conflicted over Monkey is that I take care of my mom, and she’s been in and out of hospital and rehab for months on end, providing a great deal of stress and upheaval at home. I’m sure Monk picks up on that. I had to smile at your description of sending your two kitties away — one day, I got so frustrated at Monk that I was ready to unhook his leash and let Mother Nature have him! But that’s not an option, as you correctly said. He’s mine and I’m his — we’re a bundled pair now!

  7. I’m so sorry that Monkey has been such a challenge, but I applaud you for being so honest about it. Not everyone has the emotional or financial resources to deal with a “difficult” dog, and trust me, as a volunteer at an open-admission shelter, I see how many dogs are returned for reasons far less difficult to deal with that what you are describing. (Honestly, we really did get one dog turned in because the owner redecorated their house and the dog didn’t match the new decor. Seriously.) It is so hard to cope with dogs with special needs, and I feel your pain. Kudos to you for keeping him and doing the hard work to make it work!

    • The dog didn’t match their new decor?? And they returned it to the shelter?? Oh, wow, that’s cruel. Over the past two years, I’ve read many reports of people weighing the pros and cons of re-homing a pet (usually a dog, and usually a dog with “issues”). They’re all heart-breaking. It’s pretty easy to tell which owners just weren’t ready for a pet, or which ones didn’t do the research on the breed they were considering. Because Monk is my third Sheltie, I thought I knew what I was getting. But it’s like in the wedding vows when you promise to love “in sickness and in health, for better or for worse.” You never really expect the “sickness” or the “worse.” Yet I appreciate your understanding how HARD it is. Fingers crossed, the new year will find Monk mellowing out more and me discovering I really do have some patience!

  8. You have plenty of patience, and yes, it can be VERY hard! I hope you have a support system that can help you through it. And that Monkey knows how lucky he is that he landed in your home.

    • A support system is imperative, Ann! I think mine is getting rather tired of my wavering on this issue, but that’s all part of it. No decision this important should be made in haste!

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